NSF PR 03-108 - October 1, 2003
The copper-colored images in the above figure are x-ray pole figures of copper-oxide (CuO) films that researchers at the University of Missouri-Rolla have deposited onto a gold surface. The grey background is a scanning electron microscope image of one of the CuO films. The researchers created the pole figures-which represent data, not images of molecules-using an advanced measuring instrument called an x-ray diffractometer. Scientists use x-ray pole figures to determine the atomic structure and orientation of crystalline materials. As with a person's right and left hands, the CuO films (and their pole figures) cannot be superimposed on one another. This concept is called chirality, and is a characteristic of many biologically-important molecules. The CuO films have been shown to distinguish between the left- and right-handed versions of molecules, an important trait researchers can use to create new chemical sensors and catalysts.
Credit: Jay Switzer and Eric Bohannan, University of Missouri-Rolla; National Science Foundation
Principal investigator Jay Switzer of the University of Missouri-Rolla (second from left) with collaborators Eric Bohannan (on right) and Shuji Nakanishi (far right) and student Hiten Kothari (far left). The team is standing in front of the x-ray diffractometer equipment purchased with the NSF award.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Bob Phelan/Photomasters